Today, Neal Casal's final two solo recordings, "Everything Is Moving" and "Green Moon" (listen/share) have been released across all digital music platforms. An accompanying video for "Everything Is Moving," directed by Ray Foley and featuring footage of Casal from throughout his career, has also been made available (watch/share). Initial work on these two songs began as early as 2013, but Casal—who started his career as a prolific singer/songwriter with 14 albums to his name before becoming the lead guitarist in Ryan Adams & The Cardinals and later the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, as well as his own wildly successful instrumental band, Circles Around the Sun—was never able to complete the recordings prior to his passing in August 2019. Over the course of 2020, Casal's close friends and longtime musical collaborators Jeff Hill, Jon Graboff, John Ginty, George Sluppick, Jena Kraus, JP Hesser and Jim Scott came together to add additional parts and complete mixing on the tracks.
"Working on these songs has been truly cathartic for me as I continue to process the loss of my dear friend," explains Jeff Hill. "Neal writes in 'Everything Is Moving,' 'I am just a shadow on the wall, you won't even think of me at all.' As much as Neal's lyrics can be eerily prophetic of the tragedy to come, he was wrong. So many of us will be thinking of Neal for decades to come."
In addition to being released on streaming platforms, the two songs will comprise a limited edition 7-inch on Feb. 26 by the Neal Casal Music Foundation in collaboration with Royal Potato Family who released Casal's final solo album, 'Sweeten the Distance,' in 2012. Pre-order for the vinyl edition is available now. All proceeds will benefit the 501c3 non-profit formed in Casal's name to provide instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York state schools where he was born and raised, as well as, to make donations to much-needed mental health organizations that support musicians in need. NCMF is being spearheaded by Casal's longtime manager Gary Waldman and a team of the late musician's friends. A first round of funding for the foundation was raised through a Kickstarter campaign earlier this summer comprised by two primary packages: a coffee table photography book, 'Tomorrow's Sky: Photographs by Neal Casal' produced by Jay Blakesberg and edited by his daughter Ricki Blakesberg, along with a 30-plus song tribute album, 'Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal,' tentatively planned for release in Spring 2021.
Casal began recording "Everything Is Moving"—a song that in hindsight perhaps hints at some of the struggles he was facing—at The Stable at Studio G in Williamsburg, Brooklyn circa February 2013. The band on these initial sessions featured Casal on acoustic guitar and vocals, Jon Graboff on acoustic guitar, Jeff Hill on bass and Joe Russo on drums. Additional parts were cut in July 2020 w/ Graboff returning to play pedal steel and electric guitar, John Ginty adding piano and Hammond B-3 organ and harmony vocals contributed by Hill and Jena Kraus.
With Casal beginning to envision a new album of solo songs, he started work on "Green Moon" at Castaway 7 Studios near his home in Ventura, CA in the summer of 2016, laying down lead and background vocals, acoustic and electric guitars and piano. Jeff Hill and George Sluppick would add bass and drum tracks respectively to the original recording in October 2020 to complete the song.
Neal Casal was a songwriter, singer, guitarist, record producer, photographer, surfer and friend. Over the course of a 30-plus year career, he appeared on multiple recordings as a member of bands like Circles Around the Sun, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Beachwood Sparks, The Skiffle Players and Hard Working Americans. He added his sublime musical touch to studio sessions and live performances by a long list of artists, including Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, The Jayhawks, James Iha and Vetiver. His extensive body of solo work was embraced by audiences worldwide and continues to be rediscovered in his passing. With the formation of the Neal Casal Music Foundation, the body of work he left behind, including an extensive archive of unreleased material, will be reimagined to further shine a light on his artistry, while providing resources to raise money for positive change. Neal Casal brought joy to so many and, in his absence, the foundation created in his name will further that purpose. It also hopes to reflect back to Casal the beauty he brought to this world in pursuit of a life dedicated to music and art.